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Best of the FCS through September

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - The FCS college football season moves into October with anticipation, and a great first month-plus of action deserves the credit.

There were plenty of upsets, dominating performance and thrills. We would want anything else out of the FCS.

Here's a quick look at the best of the best from August/September:

Best FCS Wins: South Carolina State, 28-13 over No. 9 Wofford; Southeastern Louisiana, 35-14 over No. 6 Jacksonville State; Dayton, 42-35 over No. 14 Indiana State; Houston Baptist, 53-52 over South Dakota; No. 8 Towson, 45-23 over No. 7 Maine; VMI, 31-24 in OT over ETSU; No. 2 James Madison, 45-10 over No. 24 Elon; No. 18 Montana, 45-20 over No. 4 UC Davis

Best FBS Win: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24, OT. The Bulldogs had never beaten Georgia Tech in 11 prior meetings, but they controlled nearly 42 minutes of game clock in regulation, quarterback Brandon Rainey ran for one touchdown and threw for another, and Jacob Godek kicked a game-winning 37-yard field goal in overtime.

Best Game: No. 18 Villanova 52, No. 4 Towson 45, OT. With two unbeaten, ranked teams squaring off in Week 4, this game gets the nod over Samford's 61-55, four-OT thriller over The Citadel. It featured six ties and four lead changes with Villanova's Drew Kresge forcing OT with a 45-yard field goal with 10 seconds to go and quarterback Daniel Smith winning it there on a 2-yard run (he had six total TDs). It was the Wildcats' first win over a top-five opponent since 2013.

Best Offensive Player: Bailey Zappe, QB, Houston Baptist. No FCS signal caller was sacked more the last two years, but with an improved offensive line this season, Zappe has taken off, leading the FCS in passing yards (1,817), passing yards per game (363.4), total offensive yards per game (369.4), touchdown passes (21) and points responsible for (126).

Best Defensive Player: Bryce Sterk, DE, Montana State. Opposing teams have to account for the pass rusher at all times. He has 30 tackles as well as the most tackles for loss (11½) and sacks (8½) among FCS players. Included were three sacks in a Top 25 win over Southeast Missouri.

Best Team: North Dakota State. What, were you expecting anything different than the No. 1-ranked, two-time defending national champ that has beaten two nationally ranked opponents (Delaware and UC Davis) while going 4-0 and increasing its win streak to 25?

Most Surprising Team(s): It doesn't feel right to choose between Houston Baptist and Tennessee Tech, each an improbable 4-1. Both programs went 1-10 in 2017 and then again last season. HBU's best win is over South Dakota and TTU's is over Samford.

Most Disappointing Team: Colgate. The defending Patriot League champ has had a brutally tough nonconference schedule, but after heavy graduation losses and facing key injuries, the preseason No. 13 squad is a stunning 0-5.

Updated October 1, 2019

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